In order to get rid of negative thinking, you need to understand the underlying mechanism of negative thoughts- how and why they arise- and then you can do something about them.
But first, an important point about positive and negative thinking. In truth, there is no positive and negative thinking. We label thoughts that seem to benefit us as positive and those that seem to cause harm as negative. It can’t be denied that in some situations negative thinking can be beneficial because it helps you to be prepared for things.
I believe the major problem with negative thinking is the negative attitude of people toward negative thinking. The mind makes us think negatively for a reason and cursing its mode of operation instead of eliminating the reason behind negative thoughts is an exercise in futility.
In this post, I’ll be using the term ‘negative thinking’ in the conventional sense for the unwanted, irrational thinking patterns that tend to cause problems for us.
|An optimist has a greater tendency for self-deception and is more likely to turn a blind eye to possible dangers.|
Mechanics of the negative mind
Had the negative thinking pattern been realistic and reasonable, there was no need of short-circuiting it. But, as you’ll come to know, it wasn’t.
Taking the above example, instead of imagining the future “ if this or if that” scenarios, you need to try asking yourself “What if” questions e.g.
Brutally rational, I must say.
Based on these roadblocks, you can then develop backup plans in case things don’t work out. This way you won’t become negative when things don’t go the way you wanted because you’ll have alternate plans ready.
Conversely, if you are always positive and believe that everything will go smoothly because the gods from Olympus have touched you on your head, then if things do get out of hand, your mind will go out of hand and you’ll curse the gods.
For instance, if you are obese and are trying to lose weight, then it is not a good idea to visit a beach because there you might encounter lots of fit and in-shape people. They’ll remind you of your unresolved obesity issue and you’ll feel bad and start to think negatively.
Even watching fit models on TV ads or highway billboards can trigger this type of negative thinking. You might arrive home feeling low and when your spouse or a parent asks you, “What happened? Hard day at the job?” little will they know that it was a supermodel poster that you saw on a road crossing for 2 seconds that is causing your bad mood.
In such cases, to avoid negative thinking you can either avoid going to the beach or seeing models or anything that reminds you of your problem (it could even be a mirror or a weighing scale!) or you can decide to solve your obesity problem. We all know that the former is a bit impractical but if you choose the latter, that’ll make your weight-related negative attitudes and feelings disappear completely.
Same applies to any other issue that you might be having in any other life area. Our negative thinking revolves around our problems and when they are gone, negative thinking vanishes too.
Not just the future
Taking the same example as above, if you failed in a test then your mind will scan your past and recall all the events which are similar or at least made you feel the same way as this current event i.e. ‘you failing in something’. The result will be that your bad emotions will increase in intensity. (accumulated problems from the past)
This is commonly observed in couples who have been married for a long time. If the husband has a fight with her wife and she feels bad because of it, then she will recall all the past events in which he made her feel the same way. As a result, she’ll feel worse.